Israel's Next U.S. Envoy: Right-wing Neo-con With Close Ties to Bush Family

Netanyahu names Ron Dermer, who is an outspoken critic of the two-state solution and viewed with suspicion by the Obama administration, as the man to replace Michael Oren after four years of service.

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Barak Ravid
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ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday officially announced his decision to appoint his American-born associate Ron Dermer as Israel's ambassador to the United States.

Dermer will replace Michael Oren, who is due to complete his term of service this September or October, after four years.

Dermer, who immigrated to Israel in 1997, has spent the last four years as a political adviser to Netanyahu and is considered the prime minister's main confidante. "Ron Dermer has all of the necessary traits to fill this position successfully," Netanyahu said in his announcement. "From many years of acquaintance with him, I know that Ron will loyally serve Israel in the capital of the United States."

In Washington, however, Dermer is viewed with suspicion by the Obama administration. He is identified there as a supporter of the Republican party. His family in Miami Beach have close ties with the Bush family, particularly with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, whose name has been mentioned as one of a number of possible contenders for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

Many Democrats also see Dermer as the brains behind Netanyahu's support for Mitt Romney. An article published in Tablet Magazine a few months before the election revealed that Dermer was the one who conceived and planned Romney's visit to Israel in July this year, along with Dan Senor, an adviser to Romney.

Romney’s visit is the brainchild of two men: Dermer, the American-born political operative who is Netanyahu’s chief strategist and speechwriter and, more importantly, Dan Senor, a Republican politico-turned-investor who is a close adviser

Dermer is the person who tried to convince Netanyahu by any means possible that Romney was set to win the elections. With the Obama starting his second term in the White House, it may be hard for Dermer to develop a network of trusted and intimate contacts among the president's most senior advisers.

Dermer's positions on policy are far more extreme than Netanyahu's. European and American officials have expressed shock by his positions on the settlement issue, on peace talks with the Palestinians, and on the principle of an independent Palestinian state.

On the way back from Netanyahu's first visit to Washington, for example, Dermer told reporters on the prime minister's plane that "the principle of two states for two peoples is a childish solution to a complicated problem." A U.S. State Department diplomatic cable that was leaked to Wikileaks revealed that Dermer is convinced that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is no partner for peace. (Click here for the original document).

Dermer immigrated to Israel in 1997 at the age of 26. He did not serve in the IDF or do national service (he claims that he went to sign up, but the IDF rejected his request to enlist). Since he moved to Israel, he has mainly been involved in politics – at first as an adviser to Natan Sharansky and later as an aide to Netanyahu. For four years, from 2004 to 2008, he was not in Israel, after Netanyahu nominated him as a representative of Israel's Finance Ministry to Washington.

Ron Dermer, Israel's envoy to the U.S.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

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